Dear Deborah: We have two Yorkshire Terriers, a male and female, both middle-aged. About two month ago, the male started acting strangely. He seems terrified of my husband. He pants a lot and seems afraid most of the time. One day, he ran away from my husband during a walk. He won’t come or sit with me if my husband is around. My husband says he’s done nothing and I believe him. Is there anything we can do? Husband Hater
Dear Husband Hater: You can teach him that your husband is safe but it will take patience. Every evening, wrap you dog in a blanket so that his legs are secured and his head is peeking out. This will force him to give up the struggle and allow you to prove to him that he is safe.
Carry him like a baby for about 10 minutes, caressing, cooing and rewarding him. Make sure you deny him these perks the rest of the day so he is hungry for your attention. Have you husband enter and stay in the room for five minutes.
Start slowly. Do not force contact. Praise him and reward him when he’s calm: hold him securely when he’s nervous. Keep your voice calm.
Your dog will get used to this routine and, eventually, stay relaxed when your husband is in the room. Then you will be able to have your husband come closer and sit beside you, and at some point you won’t need the blanket anymore. Have your husband feed him all meals and give him all treats for now.
The last step is to repeat cuddle time steps and pass the dog to your husband for a few minutes, keep the blanket on tightly, and insist he stay calm and let your husband hold him. Pass him back and end with him in your arms for a few minutes.